As a world community and as people of faith we are called to care for our neighbours, to protect their lives and their dignity, as we would our own.
The Right Reverend Jordan Cantwell, Moderator, The United Church of Canada

Starvation and extreme hunger are rapidly reaching a scale the world has not seen before in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen. There is also extreme hunger, malnutrition, and starvation in Kenya. Vulnerable people, including children, are most impacted.

Small-scale farmers supply the majority of food in Africa. But climate change has created a devastating and prolonged drought, resulting in both water and food shortages. Farmers are unable to grow crops and their livestock have died. Ongoing conflict is also contributing to the crisis, as many families are forced to flee their homes, farms, and livelihoods.

Call on the federal government to take positive, immediate steps to respond to this situation, by addressing two causes of the crisis: the decades of conflicts that have displaced millions of people, and the intensity of climate change, which causes lengthening droughts. Stronger diplomatic efforts are needed by the Government of Canada to promote peace in the region, as well an increase in climate financing that addresses the challenges faced by those most affected by climate change.

Take Action

You can find your MP’s e-mail or postal address by entering your postal code on the Parliament of Canada website.

  1. Write to The Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland, and the Honourable Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, and/your member of Parliament. Include your own thoughts, and ask:
    • that Canada promote and support stronger diplomatic efforts in the affected regions to
      immediately end violence by all conflicting parties. This includes ending Canada’s arms support to parties in the conflicts;
      provide strong support to ensure that women are fully represented in all aspects of conflict resolution and peace-making; and
      support regional efforts to bring all conflicting parties to the negotiating table for peaceful and just conflict resolution
    • that 50 percent of Canada’s international climate financing be provided for helping affected countries adapt to climate change and build resilience 
  2. Share this Take Action on your social media networks. Use the hashtags #UCCan, #ExtremeHunger.
  3. Keep the countries affected in your prayers. You may wish to use the Prayer for Extreme Hunger in Africa, and the Middle East.
  4. Support The United Church of Canada’s Extreme Hunger Appeal.

Background

The United Church of Canada launched an Extreme Hunger Appeal earlier this year as the humanitarian crisis in Kenya, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen reached grave levels.

Mission & Service partners in Africa have identified that the proliferation and accessibility of small arms and light weapons are devastating lives and communities, as well as exacerbating the tensions and conflicts across the continent. Partners call on member states of the African Union (AU) to ratify protocols and strengthen operating procedures related to the control and management of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) within the nations and along the borders in Africa. Some of the hunger-affected countries in Africa have rich natural resources, including oil. Control of these resources and marginalization of certain groups have resulted in conflicts.

Climate change and ongoing conflicts force people—including small-scale farmers, most of whom are women—to flee in search of security. Facing in addition to effects of climate change–induced drought, millions of people now face hunger and famine. In Yemen, because of war (not a natural catastrophe), 17 million people (60 per ent of the population) are desperately food insecure and need urgent humanitarian assistance. The UN warns that 7 million are in danger of slipping into famine. According to the International Crisis Group, 90 percent of the Yemeni economy is dependent on imports of staples, including rice and wheat. Western countries, including Canada, support the Saudi Arabia–led coalition that supports the current Yemeni president in its fight against the Houthi rebel–led coalition that supports the former Yemeni president. In this context, Canada needs to play a stronger role in efforts to find a political resolution to the conflict. The urgent priority now is for Canada to call for an immediate ceasefire and enable food supplies and humanitarian aid to reach those in need.

Partners in Kenya, South Sudan, and North Eastern Nigeria have also acknowledged that climate change is an underlying cause of the conditions that have led to malnutrition and extreme hunger. Member churches of the All Africa Conference of Churches have committed themselves “to be stewards of the environment and address the issue of climate change.” The Government of Canada has committed $2.65 billion in climate finance under the Paris Agreement in order to “help the most vulnerable countries adapt to and mitigate climate change.”

Climate financing can be provided for mitigation that deals with the causes of climate change and works to reduce effects of human activity on the climate system. In contrast, adaptation makes changes to prepare for and negate the effects of climate change, thereby reducing the vulnerability of communities and ecosystems. The Paris Agreement encourages donors to achieve a balance between adaptation and mitigation spending. In the Roadmap to US$100 Billion, six OECD countries—Australia, Austria, Denmark, Ireland, Switzerland and the United Kingdom—stated that they have or would either achieve the fifty-fifty balance or prioritize adaptation financing. Canada has yet to add its name to this list. Globally, only 16 percent of climate finance is provided for adaptation.

Send your letters and e-mails to:

Hon. Chrystia Freeland
Minister of Foreign Affairs
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
E-mail: Chrystia.Freeland [at] parl.gc.ca

Hon. Peter Kent
Conservative Party of Canada
E-mail: Peter.Kent [at] parl.gc.ca

Hélène Laverdière
E-mail: Helene.Laverdiere [at] parl.gc.ca

Jeff Wheeldon
Green Party of Canada
E-mail: jeff.wheeldon [at] greenparty.ca

Luc Theriault
Bloc Québécois
E-mail: Luc.Theriault [at] parl.gc.ca

Hon. Catherine McKenna
Minister of Environment and Climate Change
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
E-mail: Catherine.McKenna [at] parl.gc.ca

Hon. Ed Fast
Conservative Party of Canada
E-mail: Ed.Fast [at] parl.gc.ca

Robert Aubin
New Democratic Party
E-mail: Robert.Aubin [at] parl.gc.ca

Richard Zurawski
Green Party of Canada
E-mail: richard.zurawski [at] greenparty.ca

Monique Pauze
Bloc Québécois
E-mail: Monique.Pauze [at] parl.gc.ca

Send copies of your letters and emails to:

Christie NeufeldtProgram Coordinator, Public Witness416-231-7680 ext. 4078
1-800-268-3781 ext. 4078
cneufeldt [at] united-church.ca

For more information contact:

Wendy GichuruProgram Coordinator Africa & Middle East Partnership Program416-231-7680 ext. 4038
1-800-268-3781 ext. 4038
wgichuru [at] united-church.ca